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Solar Citizens Welcomes $500m for Publicly Owned Clean Energy in Queensland

Solar Citizens has today welcomed the announcement by the Queensland Government to support the building of publicly owned renewable energy generation through a $500 million Renewable Energy Fund.

"This is great news – it will mean thousands of regional jobs, and lower power prices for all Queenslanders," said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens' National Director. 

"Queenslanders want to see electricity assets stay in public hands. If our electricity assets stay in public hands it means that all profits can be used for schools, hospitals and addressing climate change. It's great to see wind and solar funding schools and hospitals for Queenslanders.

"The Renewable Energy Fund will help Queensland power the next generation of manufacturing with clean, cheap renewable energy. 

"We can be making batteries and electric buses and green steel right here in Queensland if we invest in clean energy generation." 
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For comment call Ellen Roberts on 0408 583 694

Clarke Creek Wind Farm Agreement Good for Jobs and Power Prices in Queensland

Solar Citizens has today welcomed an agreement between Goldwind and Stanwell Corporation for the supply of power from Goldwind’s Clarke Creek wind farm in the north of Rockhampton.

"It’s great to see Stanwell Corporation supporting the development of clean cheap energy in Queensland. The Clarke Creek wind farm will provide much-needed jobs and investment for both Rockhampton and Mackay, and will assist with driving down power prices for Queenslanders," said Solar Citizens' National Director, Ellen Roberts.

"Construction is due to begin on the Clarke Creek project next year, contributing to Queensland’s economic recovery from COVID-19.

"In addition to supporting private projects, Queensland’s government-owned generators, Stanwell and CS Energy are champing at the bit to be building and owning their own renewable energy."
Both Stanwell and CS Energy own coal-fired power stations in Queensland.

"It’s time for the State Government to allow them to build publicly-owned renewables, particularly as the latest data shows the Sunshine State is not on track to achieve it’s 50% by 2030 renewable energy target," said Ms Roberts.
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For comment please call Ellen Roberts on 0408 583 694

Queensland Government Announces First Step Towards 13,400 Ongoing Clean Energy Jobs

20 August 2020: Queensland Government Announces First Step Towards 13,400 Ongoing Clean Energy Jobs

Solar Citizens today congratulates the Queensland Government on their announcement to invest $145 million to develop Renewable Energy Zones in North and Central Queensland, as well as the South West.

“Investments like this set Queensland up to realise our incredible solar and wind potential and become a clean energy superpower,” said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ National Director.

“Turbocharging Queensland’s clean energy industry will flood the market with cheaper energy and make it more competitive to kick-start new minerals processing and manufacturing industries.

“We have some of the world’s best solar resources, and great wind too. We can be using these resources to power steel manufacturing, renewable hydrogen production and battery manufacturing facilities.

“Queensland’s large-scale clean energy industry has been hamstrung by a need for more transmission infrastructure, so this announcement is just what the doctor ordered.”

Solar Citizens says that if all of the Renewable Energy Zones proposed by the Australian Energy Market Operator across Queensland were developed to their full potential it would create 13,400 ongoing clean energy jobs as well as 21,000 construction jobs every year for ten years.

Developing Renewable Energy Zones to their maximum potential would power:

  • 14,230 construction jobs every year for ten years in the north of Queensland if Far North Queensland, North Queensland Clean Energy Hub, North Queensland, Barcaldine and Isaac Renewable Energy Zones were developed.
  • 3,533 construction jobs every year for ten years in Central Queensland if Fitzroy and Wide Bay were developed. 
  • 3,255 construction jobs every year for ten years in the Darling Downs if it was developed. 

“Making the most of our renewable energy potential would power tens of thousands of construction jobs across regional Queensland and unlock billions worth of investment,” said Ms Roberts.

“Today we’ve seen the Queensland Government make a smart investment to grow a thriving clean energy industry. Now it’s time for the Federal Government to come to the table like they’ve done in NSW to build Renewable Energy Zones.”

Queensland Not on Track to Reach 50 per cent Renewables, Despite Announcements

19 August 2020: Queensland Not on Track to Reach 50 per cent Renewables, Despite Announcements

New analysis from Green Energy Markets has found that Queensland is only on track to meet 37.5 per cent renewable electricity by 2030, falling well short of the State Government’s 50 per cent goal.

“Energy policy uncertainty and the dire need for more transmission infrastructure is driving away potential investors,” said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ National Director. 

“The clean energy projects proposed across Queensland would create thousands of construction jobs and billions worth of investment, but Queenslanders won’t see a slice of this unless the State Government releases a plan for reaching 50 per cent renewables and beyond.”

While the Queensland Government is falling behind on their 50 per cent commitment, the State LNP Opposition has indicated that they won’t support a renewable energy target if elected in October. 

“If the Queensland LNP abolishes the state’s renewable energy target, it’ll send a message to renewable investors that Queensland is closed for business,” said Ms Roberts. 

“Halting renewable energy investment will stop electricity bills from dropping further and hurt regional communities that stand to gain from new large-scale projects.”

The new Green Energy Markets report highlights that a surge in renewable energy, particularly solar, has driven down the wholesale price of electricity during the daytime from $67 in 2016 to just $12 last May. 

“Manufacturers in the North of Queensland are complaining about high electricity prices, caused by a reliance on expensive gas plants. To support regional manufacturing we need to urgently scale up renewable generation and transmission,” said Ms Roberts.

“Queensland’s competitive advantage should be an abundance of cheap renewable energy. More cheap renewables can revive local manufacturing and pave the way for new industries, like green steel production.”

A recent report from the Grattan Institute found if Australia gained just 6.5% of the global steel market it would create 25,000 ongoing manufacturing jobs in Queensland and NSW, and generate $65 billion in annual export revenue.

“The boom in renewable energy construction activity is turning to a bust just at the wrong time for the Queensland economy,” said Tristan Edis from Green Energy Markets. 

“Over 2019 there was not a single utility-scale solar or wind farm committed to construction and those committed to construction over 2016 to 2018 are now largely complete.”

To the credit of the State Government and the Sunshine State’s 700,000 solar homes and businesses, Queensland has gone from consuming just 7 per cent renewable electricity in 2016 to a projected 23 per cent by 2021. 

“In the last five years Queensland has proven the doubters wrong who said renewable energy was too expensive and too insignificant to make a difference,” said Mr Edis.


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Media contact: Ellen 0408 583 694
Full analysis here.

Queensland LNP MP Calls for More Privately-owned Electricity Generation

30 July 2020: Queensland LNP MP Calls for More Privately-owned Electricity Generation

A week after Queensland’s Shadow Energy Minister Michael Hart said the state LNP had no intention of investing in new coal generation in Queensland, MP Dale Last has come out clarifying that they do support more private generation, including new coal.

Mr Last told the Daily Mercury, “The LNP will facilitate private sector investment in new electricity generation in Queensland, including coal-fired power stations by streamlining the approval process.”

“New generators should be funded, built, owned and operated by bodies other than the state government to boost competition and lower prices,” he said.

Community group Solar Citizens has called out the state opposition for supporting more private and expensive coal generation.

“Queenslanders have shown time and time again that we don’t want private companies to control the majority of our electricity assets, and yet here we are again,” said Solar Citizens’ National Director Ellen Roberts.

“Now is the moment to invest in more publicly-owned renewable energy, so we can power the Sunshine State with cheaper energy that’s owned by Queenslanders.

“A new coal-fired power station will not get off the ground without substantial government subsidies. The proposed Collinsville coal generator is very unlikely to go ahead, and saying otherwise is lying to Queenslanders.”

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Media contact: Ellen 0408 583 694

Solar Citizens calls on AEMC to block imposition of export fees

Solar Citizens, a national organisation advocating for rooftop solar owners, has expressed dismay at proposals under consideration by the Australian Energy Market Commission that would see solar owners charged for providing power to the grid.

Currently, the Australian Energy Rules prevent people generating power from being charged to access the network. St Vincent’s and the South Australian Power Network are proposing a change to the rules that would allow network operators to impose charges on solar households for exporting to the grid, claiming that households without solar are subsidising those with panels. 

However, research by the Victoria Energy Policy Centre finds that rooftop solar panels bring down power prices for all energy consumers. The VEPC analysed the bills of 7,200 Victorian homes with rooftop solar and found that even the relatively low penetration of rooftop solar in that State brought prices down by $6.4/MWh, 8% off the wholesale price of electricity in 2019.

‘Rooftop solar benefits all energy consumers by providing cheap power to the grid and bringing down prices for all consumers. We should be encouraging more people to get solar, not imposing greater financial costs on them,’ said Solar Citizens National Director Ellen Roberts.

‘Big coal and gas generators aren’t charged for exporting their power to the grid, so why should we be slugging Australian families with panels on their roofs who are providing cheap power to their neighbours?'

‘Consumer groups concerned about equity and welfare should be doing all they can to promote the uptake of rooftop solar, not seeking to undermine it. 

‘The AEMC is considering three rule changes at once, and there’s plenty to support in the proposal from Total Environment Centre and Australian Council of Social Services. But any blanket imposition of fees on solar households will work to benefit the big coal and gas generators who will sell more power if solar exports are no longer viable.’

ARENA Board Lapse is Bad News for Renewables

Solar Citizens has expressed concern that the terms of the board of directors of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency will expire this Friday with no plan to replace them.

‘ARENA oversees millions of dollars of vital government funded energy projects, and needs an experienced board to make informed and independent investment decisions,’ said Solar Citizens National Director Ellen Roberts.

‘It’s very unfortunate that the Federal government is allowing the terms of the current board to expire, with no arrangements in place to ensure the proper functioning of the organisation.’

‘We’re calling for the terms of the current board members to be extended, and ARENA to be fully refunded to allow it to continue its vital work in ensuring Australia’s smooth and timely energy transition.’

ARENA is also due to run out of funding for new projects this year.

The lapsing of the board terms comes as the Federal Government is actively considering expanding ARENA’s investment mandate to allow it to invest in non-renewable energy projects, such as carbon capture and storage.

‘This would open the door to funding gas and coal projects that are packaged up with questionable “low emissions” technologies, such as disproven carbon capture and storage, to pass them off as clean energy projects.’

‘ARENA and the CEFC are the last meaningful clean energy policies in Australia, and key to the Government’s strategy to invest in clean energy technology and lower emissions. The mandate change could see wind and solar lose out, as renewables will now need to compete with a broader range of technologies for grant funding.’

Solar Citizens advocates for the rights of the millions of Australians with rooftop solar, and anyone who wants to see an urgent transition to 100% renewable energy.

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Ellen Roberts can be contacted for comment on 0408 583 694

Latest details on the ARENA board can be found in this Renew Economy article: https://reneweconomy.com.au/crunch-time-for-clean-energy-funding-as-arena-board-deadline-looms-19863/

Queensland Renewable Energy Zones a Jobs Goldmine

Turbocharging Queensland’s large-scale renewable energy industry creates 9,300 construction jobs every year for ten years and almost 6,000 ongoing jobs, according to a new report by Solar Citizens. 

The report, titled Queensland’s Renewable Recovery Plan, analysed how many jobs would be created if key Renewable Energy Zones were developed across Queensland. It found that developing the two major zones in North Queensland alone, including Townsville and the surrounding area, creates over 4,100 construction jobs every year until 2030 and 2,500 ongoing jobs. 

Renewable Energy Zones are designated areas across the National Electricity Market that have the greatest renewable energy potential and are prime locations for transmission investment.

The NSW Government recently announced an area west of Dubbo as a Renewable Energy Zone in June, and was overrun with investor interest – with proposed projects worth a total of $38 billion.

“At the moment the need for new transmission infrastructure is one of the main hurdles stopping investment in new solar and wind projects in Queensland, but with the right infrastructure the Sunshine State could have a thriving and job-rich clean energy industry,” said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ National Director. 

“Queenslanders could be the main beneficiaries as Australia transitions to renewable energy because we’ve got incredible solar and wind resources and clean energy expertise.

“Regional Queenslanders, in particular, will be the winners with 75% of the jobs created from a thriving renewable energy industry being in the regions.”

The report highlights that there are already more jobs across Australia in renewable energy, compared with domestic coal generation and mining. Solar Citizens recommends that the Queensland Government’s economic recovery measures should prioritise energy infrastructure and public investment in new solar, wind and storage projects to fast-track renewable jobs and the creation of new manufacturing industries.

“One of Queensland’s main competitive advantages should be cheap energy because we have some of the world’s best solar and wind resources,” said Ms Roberts.

“Building the right infrastructure and tapping into these resources could attract new industries and see ‘green’ steel and storage batteries being manufactured here in Queensland.”

The report also found that if the Queensland Government rolled out 50,000 storage batteries across Queensland’s 700,000 solar homes and businesses, it would create 280 installation jobs every year for five years, as well as 73 ongoing jobs in operations and maintenance. 

“Incentivising the uptake of household battery storage could fire up local battery storage manufacturing, like we’ve seen in South Australia where there are now three battery facilities in operation,” said Ms Roberts. 

“Already in Townsville there’s a proposal to open a huge battery facility that could employ up to 1,150 locals. We want to see more of this.”

“Using this moment to invest in renewable energy initiatives won’t just create thousands of construction jobs, it will pave the way for clean energy to be one of the main drivers of our future economy.”

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Media contact:
Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694
Full report here.

Don't Tax the Sun: Solar Owners Shouldn't be Charged for their Exports

Solar Citizens, a national organisation advocating for rooftop solar owners, has hit back at suggestions from the Australian Energy Regulator that solar owners should be charged for providing power to the grid.

"Rooftop solar benefits all energy consumers by providing cheap power to the grid for everyone to use," said Solar Citizens' National Director Ellen Roberts.

"As we transition our energy system and clean up our power supply, we need to be encouraging more rooftop solar not penalising people for putting panels on their roof.

"Australian families putting solar on their roof are doing the right thing for the environment, and for other energy consumers. We need to ensure that solar continues to grow.

"Big coal and gas generators aren’t charged for exporting their power to the grid, so why should we be slugging Australian families with panels on their roofs?

"If we want to look at equity in the energy system, let's look at the big players making big profits, not Mum and Dad's with solar."

For comment call Ellen Roberts on 0408 583 694

Queensland Regional Power Bills to Fall as More Renewable Energy Enters Grid

Community group Solar Citizens says a decrease in electricity tariffs for regional Queenslanders is largely thanks to more renewable energy projects coming online. 

On Thursday the QCA released regulated retail electricity prices for 2020-21 for regional areas, with a 5.9 per cent decrease in the main residential tariff and a 3.2 per cent decrease for small businesses. 

“The savings that Queenslanders will see on their electricity bills are due to the falling wholesale cost of electricity, which keeps being driven down as more cheap, renewable energy enters the grid,” said Stephanie Gray, Solar Citizens’ Campaigner. 

“Queenslanders love their solar and we now have over 700,000 solar homes and businesses in the Sunshine State. That’s a lot of cheap energy that’s being pumped into the grid.

“If we continue to roll out rooftop solar as well as big solar and wind farms, Queensland’s competitive advantage will be cheap, clean energy and that will attract new industries.”

Solar Citizens is concerned, however, that renewable energy momentum could slow down in Queensland. Last year no new large-scale renewable energy projects were committed to construction in the state. 

“To continue to drive down power prices further, the best thing that all sides of politics can do is commit to keep backing the transition to clean energy,” said Ms Gray.

“This is an election year for Queensland. We need to see bigger renewable commitments from all parties so that Queenslanders can have lower bills, cleaner air and new job opportunities.”